Tremors in dogs, much like tremors in humans, are rhythmic involuntary movements that can affect all or part of the body. There are many causes of tremors. Tremors involving the head are often caused by abnormalities of the brain (i.e. cerebellum) or the organ of balance (i.e. the vestibular). Inflammation, trauma, toxins and immune system problems are only a few of the causes that can affect the brain and result in tremors. If the tremors affect the dog’s hind legs, there is a strong possibility that there may be problems with the dog’s spinal cord or by an underlying disease such as kidney failure, hypothyroidism, or hypoglycemia (i.e. low blood sugar). However, if the tremor affects the entire body, the cause could be toxins, degenerative nerve disease, or even tumors.
Treatment and prevention of tremors is facilitated if the tremor’s primary cause can be identified. In fact, most of the causes of tremors in adult dogs are treatable. However, a proper diagnostic work-up must be done in order to arrive at a diagnosis so that appropriate treatment can be initiated. Diagnostic tests should include blood tests (e.g. biochemistry, complete blood count), urinalysis, x-rays and CSF tap (i.e. cerebrospinal fluid analysis). In some cases, a veterinarian may wish to refer the patient to a specialist in veterinary internal medicine for diagnostic tests.